Now NOAA Predicts So Many Hurricanes This Year They May Run Out of Names – YIKES

Graphic: NOAA

Late last week the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued its annual update on this year’s outlook for tropical hurricanes and they are now predicting the conditions are ripe for a huge season, with 19-25 named storms with sustained winds over  39 mph or greater, and even worse, 7 to 11 are expected to become hurricanes with winds of 74 mph or greater.  One of the reasons driving up the numbers is that we have already had 9 named storms this year.  NOAA plans names for 21 storms each year.

Why This Matters:  Hurricane season really gets serious only now, so the worst is still ahead of us. And the revised forecast is a big increase over what had been forecast at the beginning of the season when NOAA said there was a 70% chance of 13 to 19 named storms.  Now they have 85% certainty it will be much worse.  In fact, they expect that there could be three to six storms that end up as major hurricanes like Maria, Dorian, and Michael, which caused so much destruction and will take billions of dollars to rebuild and years of recovery efforts.  More than 100,000 people across 3 states are still without power just from Tropical Storm Isaias, which does not bode well for the rest of the season.

Record Year

According to NOAA, this year has seen a “record-setting nine named storms so far and has the potential to be one of the busiest on record. Historically, only two named storms form on average by early August, and the ninth named storm typically does not form until October 4.”  Why so bad?  The ocean is particularly warm in the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, and the tropical Atlantic trade winds are weak, with reduced wind shears and a stronger West African monsoon season and these conditions are expected to remain in place for several months.  NOAA’s lead hurricane prognosticator, Gerry Bell, explained  “This year, we expect more, stronger, and longer-lived storms than average, and our predicted ACE range extends well above NOAA’s threshold for an extremely active season.”

Late August Shaping Up To Be Active

Prepare for an active season starting in late August, according to experts cited by The Washington Post, who are tracking several meteorological phenomena that don’t bode well.  Looking at the current weather models for 2-4 weeks from now, they see a stubborn area of high pressure forming farther south and west of Bermuda this year than is typical.  This means that if a storm forms, it is more likely to be steered toward land by the atmospheric currents as opposed to staying out in the Atlantic. In an updated hurricane outlook released last week from Colorado State University, meteorologists also increased odds of a major hurricane making landfall in the Lower 48 states this year.  Moreover, the experts believe that because the ocean temps are so warm (thanks to climate change), we should expect wetter and more intense storms, that intensify quickly.

To Go Deeper: Read The Washington Post story on why this year is could be so bad here.

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